Amniocentesis (amnio) to detect Down Syndrome is cost effective for pregnant women at any age according to a study in the January 24, 2004 Lancet. For years Amnio has been offered to women over age 35. This cut off age was set because researchers assumed that the fear of miscarriage was about equal to the fear of having a child with Down Syndrome.
The risk of having a Down’s child increases with age. At age 35 it is about one in two hundred — about the same risk as having a miscarriage caused by the amnio. The decision to have the procedure is about more than just cost. For some women having a child with Down Syndrome is far scarier than having a miscarriage. They may want amnios at earlier ages. For other women the thought of miscarrying a healthy baby is much worse. For these women the best decision may be to forego an amnio even at a later age.
For some families having a child with Down’s Syndrome was the best thing that ever happened to them.